Dave's Dialogue

Dave's Dialogue

Wednesday, 09 January 2013 00:17

State of the District Remarks

Note: The following remarks were given at the Board of Education Swearing-In Ceremony on Jan. 8, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, Board members, honored guests — welcome to Canyons School District. I am delighted to be with you tonight and congratulate all of the new board members and their families. I look forward to working with you and trust that you will find the work of public education as rewarding as I do.

I would like to begin my remarks tonight by sharing an anecdote told by Major General John Stanford, who died of leukemia in 1998 after three years as the Superintendent of the Seattle Public Schools. Although I never met him, Stanford is one of my heroes, and I read his advice about leadership often. In his book "Victory in our School: We Can Give Our Children Excellent Public Education," Stanford relates the following story:

"Once, two men shared a hospital room. The man in the bed by the door was gravely ill; doctors questioned his hold on life. But the man in the window bed was stronger and often passed the time by describing the scene outside. 'There's a park,' he would say, 'I see children playing.' Or, 'Look, the ice cream truck is coming!' Or, 'Ah, two young lovers walking hand in hand.' As the sicker man in the bed by the door grew stronger, he would nod and smile; the vicarious contact with the outside world cheered him.

"After a week the man in the window bed went home and the sicker man was moved to the bed by the window. The following morning, as soon as the nurse had opened the curtains, he raised himself and looked out. There, to his surprise, was a parking lot—barren concrete with a few randomly parked cars. No children. No lovers. No park. At first he was furious; how could his friend have misled him? But as the hours ticked by he realized what a gift his friend had given him. The images the man had painted had reminded him of all that was good about life; they had renewed his sense of hope and possibility. More than the medical care he was receiving, those images had strengthened him.

Superintendent Stanford went on to state:

"Today I am the man looking out the window for the children of Seattle. I must paint a similar vision for our citizens and school employees. They, too, must see the possibilities in the schools—and believe that the possibilities can be realized. How else will they inspire our children every single day? For the sake of the children, for the sake of our city, we must all share a common vision of what our schools can be; safe places filled with love where all students learn."i

As we enter this new phase of Canyons School District, now in our fourth academic year, I agree with Superintendent Stanford's perspective. Today we are the ones looking out the window for the children who attend our 45 schools, and we continue to move ahead with our shared vision that each and every one of our students must graduate from high school ready for college, career, and citizenship. Period.

We have learned that realizing this vision is not easy. Success requires major changes in how we conduct business in our schools and District offices. Yet we press on, as advised by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who noted: "If you think a change is right, go with it. The opposition is inevitable, but rarely is it unbeatable. There will be many silent supporters among the many vocal detractors. And leadership is all about the decisions that change. If you can't handle that, don't become a leader."ii

We know we have broad support for our vision of true equal educational and economic opportunity for all children. As proof, we can point to several major accomplishments that are advancing this vision, all of which were made possible by the Board of Education, teachers, and community members working together.

• Voters supported the Board's $250 million bond initiative, allowing us to improve the safety and learning environments for thousands of students across the District.

• This year we opened a brand new Midvale Elementary School, ensuring that several hundred students from one of our most impoverished areas, who had been attending one of our most substandard facilities, go to school in a building that ensures opportunity and dignity.

• We have implemented a curriculum based measurement system in all of our elementary schools, to provide teachers and principals with real time feedback in their efforts to help all students reach proficiency levels in reading and math by the end of the third grade, and beyond.

• We have implemented the EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT exams to all 8th, 10th, and 11th graders in the District to provide students, parents, teachers, and counselors with research-based data on students' college readiness.

• We were named by the College Board to the 2012 Advanced Placement Honor Roll, one of only 367 public school districts nationally, and one of only three in Utah, to be so designated.

• We have implemented new math and English/Language Arts curricula in elementary and secondary schools that are aligned with new Common Core State Standards and that will better prepare students for college and career.
• We adopted and implemented new Advanced and Honors diplomas, and we remain the first and only school district in the state to award college- and career-ready diplomas.

• Our elementary dual immersion language programs in Chinese, French, and Spanish have earned a national reputation for excellence, and international recognition from the governments of France and Spain.

• We have created, in collaboration with the Utah State Office of Education, new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses for grades 6-8 that will be the first of their kind in the state.

• We have cultivated outstanding relationships with business and community leaders, resulting in the contribution of $409,000 in private funds over the past three years to the Canyons School District Education Foundation, including $155,000 in just the past six months from major industry partners that has been earmarked toward the $200,000 needed to fully implement the new middle school STEAM curriculum in the 2013-2014 school year.

Obviously we still have many challenges, though none are insurmountable, that lie ahead:

• We still have many old facilities to replace and renovate in order to improve the learning environment for students and working conditions for our employees.

• Funding for teacher compensation, class size reduction, technology, professional development for teachers, and special programs remains limited given state budgets and impacts of the recession.

• Notwithstanding the progress we have made, we still have far too few high school students, especially students of color and of low socioeconomic status, taking A.P and other rigorous college prep courses, too few meeting the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, and too few earning Advanced and Honors diplomas.

• Grade reconfiguration, which was approved unanimously by the Board three years ago, and which will be fully implemented in the fall of 2013, together with new school boundaries, presents major changes for staff, students, and parents as 6th graders move up to middle school and 9th graders move up to high school.

• While I believe our schools are safe, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that we are doing everything reasonable, prudent, and within our means to prevent such a tragedy, as well as bullying, harassment, and other forms of violence, from occurring on our watch.

Yet I am confident that, working together, we can and will meet these challenges, as well as others that may be unforeseen. Working in public education is, in my opinion, the most noble work one can do, and I am grateful every day that I have the privilege of being a part of the public schools in this community.

Indeed, I would be remiss if I did not specifically thank those who work day in and day out to ensure our collective success. I am thankful for our dedicated board members, who give of their time and talents to serve this community. I am thankful for our teachers, principals, and support staff, who work tirelessly every day with genuine love for their students. I am thankful for the unparalleled involvement and support we receive from parents across the District, who volunteer thousands of hours every year to help children succeed. I am thankful to have the backing of many business leaders and organizations, which provide financial and moral support as we work to confront the status quo. Finally, and most importantly, I am deeply grateful for my wife Rori, without whose love and support I would not survive a single day in this job. She sacrifices a great deal so that I can be in schools and attend community events, and I am so very thankful for her constant encouragement.

In short, while the past four years have been very difficult at times, they have also been very rewarding, and instilled in me a sense of optimism and hope about the future of Canyons School District. I believe wonderful things lie ahead as we collaborate together and do what is best for students.

In short, I am convinced that outstanding education for every child is critical to each child's personal development, but also to our local and state prosperity. Horace Mann once said:

"For the creation of wealth...intelligence is the grand condition. ... In former times ... not one man in a million has ever had such a development of mind as made it possible for him to become a contributor to art or science. Let this development precede, and contributions, numberless, and of inestimable value, will be sure to follow. That political economy, therefore, which busies itself about capital and labor, supply and demand, interest and rents, favorable and unfavorable balances of trade, but leaves out of account the element of widespread mental development, is naught but stupendous folly."iii

Thank you all for joining me in this endeavor, of building the mental, as well as the social and character, development, of the children in our care.

__________________________
iMajor General John Stanford, Victory in Our Schools. (Bantam Books, 1999), pp. 11-12.
iiTony Blair, A Journey: My Political Life (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), p. 477.
iiiJoy Elmer Morgan, Horace Mann: His Ideas and Ideals (National Home Library Foundation, 1936), p. 140.
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 22:32

Update on our Renovation Projects

In my travels around the District, I often hear rumor and conjecture about various issues that, if left unchecked, can create an atmosphere of hostility and distrust in our community that I work hard to prevent. One such issue I've been hearing about recently is the status of renovation projects underway at the Canyons Administration Building, 9150 S. 500 West, and the Canyons Support Services Center, 9350 S. 300 East. I would like to provide some facts about the purpose, and costs, of these projects.

We have undertaken two renovation projects at the CAB. First, more than 1,200 square feet of office space, including my office, was renovated during the summer of 2011. This was done to make this section of the building both more secure and more customer friendly in terms of its layout and design. We often have visitors, who are always welcome, and we simply reconfigured some of the secretarial stations and offices so that guests would feel better received. In addition, we added a conference room so that we would have one more room that is adequate to hold staff meetings or small trainings.

My own office was not expanded in size or given any significant upgrade in terms of its appearance or design. If you have any doubts, I invite you to visit the Office of the Superintendent at any time, and we will be happy to give you a tour. The total cost of this renovation was $135,626.27.

Second, in September 2011, we began working on a modest upgrade to the main entrance of the CAB on the east side of the building. As you may know, the CAB, which Canyons District inherited when we assumed ownership of the facility in July 2009, was once a utility company. It wasn't built to be a school district headquarters that welcomes dozens of patrons on a daily basis. Therefore, we're making minor modifications to make the front lobby of our main District Office more professional and customer-service oriented.

Most importantly, the upgrade will address barriers to the disabled. Some of the modifications are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, the main doors will have push-button openers for people using wheelchairs or other mobility aides — features that our old doors did not have. The total cost of this renovation is $51,581.70.

We have also undertaken two renovation projects at the CSSC. First, we are in the process of renovating part of the northwest side of the building that used to house the Jordan District print shop. Our aim is to convert it into a Professional Development Center. With many more trainings and in-services on the horizon for our Educational Technology Specialists, District Office staff, and teachers in order to implement the Common Core State Standards, plan for grade reconfiguration, and integrate technology into our classrooms, we need space where we can host large groups without infringing on the high schools or having to go off-site.

This space will address a critical need as we plan our professional development activities over the next few months and years. The total cost for this project will be $467,765.

Second, we have started work on the multipurpose area where the Board of Education holds its meetings. In this room, where the public is welcome to listen and contribute to the discussion, the theater-type seating is being taken out and reconfigured to make it easier for patrons, parents, employees and students, especially those with disabilities, to find a seat and comfortably participate in the public process. Among other features, the project plans also include a conference room, several new storage areas and a new break room and restrooms for employees and visitors.

A rostrum, with appropriate safety features, is being constructed so everyone in the room can easily witness the Board's actions, and so that the Board is adequately protected in the unlikely, but frightening, event of an attack on the school board.

The main purpose of all of these renovations, which cover 3,200 square feet, is to improve the safety and security of those who attend Board meetings. For example, the new design will have more modes of ingress and egress in case of an emergency. As much as I wish we didn't have these kinds of concerns, I believe this is money well spent because of my steadfast belief that the safety of the patrons, students and employees who attend the meetings of the Canyons Board of Education should be paramount. The total cost of this project will be $494,993.40.

I'm including here a link to an NBC "Nightly News" story from last year about a school board in Florida that was approached by an armed patron. Fortunately, no one was injured in that instance, but it impressed upon me the need to make sure the students, patrons and employees who attend our public meetings would be able to exit quickly in an emergency.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40674270/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/woman-describes-hitting-school-board-gunman/

The final point I want to make is that every one of these projects has received discussion by, and full approval of, the Board of Education. Also, the funds used cannot be used on salary or benefits. They are appropriate projects that will serve the public, serve all employees, and create a professional, yet welcoming, environment for all of our patrons.

I hope this information answers questions you may have about the construction work being done at both the CAB and CSSC. If you have any additional thoughts or concerns, please don't hesitate to send me a note. We'll be happy to get you information. I truly appreciate hearing from concerned employees or taxpayers, and I am happy to respond. You may contact me through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., which is readily accessible on the Web site, or through our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I also welcome you to post your questions here on my blog.

Best,

Superintendent Doty
Friday, 07 October 2011 23:40

"Reading for the Record"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beMUDnhZxss
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